Next month: October 1995
For the rating system, I'm primarily looking at the textual content of the pages - nice graphics are a bonus and would bump up the rating by a point or two, but it's sad to say that most lottery sites lack depth in their coverage. There's over 30 US lottery results sites now and yet only about three of them present other info such as frequencies, last appearance of a ball, etc. After realising this, I went around a few docs, particularly the FAQ for these pages and also references to my pages in the Lottery Links section, stating that many of the features on these WWW pages are actually unique for a lottery site !
Added a ticket history filter to the Quick Pick page, so that people can now generate tickets that have (or haven't) won previously. Unbanned the first user I banned from the virtual lottery because it was a simple typing error by that user (in fact, I'd sussed that via sendmail verification, but I just wanted to exercise the code to display banned users !).
Wow - I underestimated the number of virtual lottery players ! Without a prize at the end of it, I reckoned most people wouldn't be bothered, but over 75 people entered yesterday. Yes, I entered with my normal "real" numbers too, although I'll be banned from playing when prize money is available of course. The first external entry was from an Austrian site in case you're curious. Fixed expiry problem on the claim form, but since no-one except me's ever seen the full claim form so far, it's a bit academic. For those who want to cut-n-paste the claim security code and their numbers from a valid submission, I've repeated the numbers underneath the security code so that a simple area select with the mouse should grab the appropriate 2 lines with the code and their 6 numbers, ready for pasting into a file for safe-keeping.
Adjusted overnight cron jobs to 2.00am because I mirror back the virtual lottery entries log file sometime between 12.00am and 1.30am and I need a fresh log file to regenerate the number of entries figure on the entry form correctly. Corrected mirroring config file used for retrieving the virtual entries log file from Connect's FTP server - the files were being timestamped an hour out !
Separated the ticket sales figures from the total prizes page and put them in a page of their own, which also includes the figures in reverse ticket sales order for the first time. Added a "where's the money gone" section to the ticket sales page so that people can see that the government have raked in over £300m already in tax and Camelot have a revenue in excess of £130m ! The big mystery is what has happened to the Super Draws we've been promised - it's almost 6 months since the last one and I make at least £100m in the kitty for it...
I've started on the long road to vamping up the pages during the provisional results period, which is something I've been meaning to do for a while. The first small addition is a provisional results line at the top of the reverse date order winning numbers page between Saturday evening and Monday morning. That provisional line has the 7 drawn numbers and also the estimated jackpot (followed by a ?), but it's not possible to get the provisional number of jackpot winners from ITV teletext automatically, so I've left that as "0?".
I also modify the lowest/highest/averages lines for the ball stats on that provisional page, but I don't update the jackpot or winners summary lines because the provisional figures for those aren't hugely reliable during that period. Eventually, I intend to update some of the other pages, including the various forms so that you can at least check if you've won a prize during the provisional period, even if it won't be able to tell you exactly what the prize is !
Activated the first ever Virtual Lottery, although there's no prize money yet. Disabled the virtual lottery Have You Won ? and Claim Form pages until next week, because they're somewhat pointless at the moment. Finally sorted out the encryption aspect of the claim security code, which is 16 hex digits - I wonder how long it will take someone to crack it ?
I've done a fair amount of testing of both the entry and claim forms, but the big test comes during the week and, of course, the following Monday when I have to announce the first winner. The process of picking a winner, e-mailing them and updating the appropriate virtual lottery pages is now pretty well automated, but I have a feeling of trepidation about it actually working perfectly in a live situation !
I've still to write an automated set of stats pages (particularly the overall frequency of the numbers picked by the virtual lottery players), plus a results page of course. It'll be interesting to see what proportion of visitors to the UK National Lottery pages actually enter the virtual lottery, especially during this prizeless test period. I'm only expecting about 1% (120-150 entries), but I'd expect an explosion of entries if money was on offer.
Now there's some more screen estate there, I've revived the latest newsflash on the home page, because I miss it ! Changes to it include dropping the exact time of the newsflash [it just overloaded the info - the date is enough], adding a colon at the end of the newsflash heading to match the colon after the winning numbers header and, most importantly of all, the newsflashes are now kept for two months (61 days to be exact) instead of one.
Previous month: August 1995